Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Sad Night in the Blogosphere

Some of the best blogging I've read, like other literature, deals in some way with personal pain. A lot of us are good at calling up all manner of tools to deal with the pain -- snark, sarcasm, slapstick humor -- and sometimes a good laugh as we type helps us keep it all in perspective. A few years ago I joined the blogger community to find a way to channel all the fear, hope, anger, sadness, blood, sweat and tears I was dealing with while going through infertility. I found a ready-made community of amazing women willing to come along with me for the ride.

I've been following some of your blogs for that long now, and maybe it's crazy, but I feel like I know some of you personally. I get a little palpitation when I open my reader knowing someone's pregnancy news could be there waiting for me. I ooh and ahh over your baby pics. And I shake my fist and cry when I read your bad news.

I was dismayed tonight to learn about Jen's (Maybe if you Just Relax) loss. I'm shaken about it, as if a personal friend had called me to share this news. Maybe it's because she's so vibrant, so full of wit and zany humor, but I find myself stunned, more than anything, that this tragic thing happened to her.

I just wanted to send my best thoughts out to her and to everyone experiencing loss in any way.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

C'est Difficile

I don't want to blog about this.

I really don't.

I actually want someone to tell me it's a bad dream and wake me up and take me out to pancakes. It's embarrassing and I just want to deny it's happening.

But it sucks and it's happening to me and what else is this blog for?

So. Where to begin.

I just typed the long version of the story out and then realized that a) it's boring and b) it's not funny yet, because I'm still in hell over it. So here is the short version. I took an antibiotic shortly before Thanksgiving, for something that seemed to warrant it, according to the prescribing doctor, but in retrospect probably could have been handled with something topical or the passage of time. In my defense, he had me convinced with the threat of it spreading to the baby.

That antibiotic gave me an allergic reaction -- the first of my life from a medication. And then? It made me have to go to the bathroom. A lot. Those following along at home will remember this fun episode I had post-D&C two years ago. Having lived to tell about that, I thought, well, this sucks, but I'm sure it will just go away on its own as it did before. Wrong.

Turns out, what they say about antibiotics wiping out good bacteria in your gut and allowing bad things to breed is 100% accurate. I could send you pictures, but trust me you don't want them. That damn antibiotic gave me a GI infection called c difficile, which like its name suggests, is a big, giant pain in the ass. Literally.

And unfortunately, I didn't respond well to the first course of antibiotics that they, ironically, give you to treat it. I found that out on Christmas Eve. Repeat: I had to bring a stool sample to the hospital. On Christmas Eve.

So I'm on a different, stronger antibiotic now. And I'd be lying if I said I wasn't more than a little freaked out by this whole thing.

Here's a tip. If you get something like c difficile -- which I hope you don't (one reason I am typing all of this is to hopefully prevent someone else from going through this) -- don't google it. Okay? Because you will see something that you really wish you hadn't, and that will be hard to get out of your head.

I have been told by some very knowledgeable people that this is going to go away, it just can take time to clear your system. I am trying to be patient. Am trying to stop feeling cursed. Am hoping that in a couple of weeks, this will be cured, the boot will be off my broken foot, I'll have a clean uterus and I can finally, finally start getting myself feeling pre-fertility treatment healthy and fit again.

Stories about someone you know (apparently this is becoming more and more common) who had this and kicked it after a couple of antibiotic rounds, no problem, are most welcome. Stories about your great aunt sally who spent five months in the ICU because of it will be considered a call to war.

Oh, other than obsessing over the battle inside me right now between good and bad bacteria, I spent a good amount of time today trying to figure out what new insurance policy to pick as of next week (all of which suck to varying degrees when it comes to IVF). I've been trying to reach the insurance coordinator in my RE's office for weeks about this and haven't gotten a response. Turns out today was her last day, so that explains why she's basically told me to suck it. So I tried speaking with a nurse to get the answer to my question, which is a basic one (how are the IVF tests, procedures, etc. billed, which seems to determine coverage). Couldn't get a straight answer.

Then I asked this nurse if she'd heard about my having the infection (because I had discussed it with another nurse and my RE). I guess I was probably looking for another "oh, that's too bad, but don't worry, my sister just had it and she's fine now" story. Instead I got an offhand question about whether I was better yet, then she quickly moved on to asking about how my Christmas was.

Well, as I just suggested, I spent a good deal of time pooping on Christmas. So actually? It was not the ideal first-Christmas-with-baby holiday I thought it would be.

I didn't say this. I told her H enjoyed it (which he did), and left it at that.

He did enjoy it. A lot. I wish I could say the same about myself. Because feeling sorry for yourself on Christmas? Is one of the saddest ways to be.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Pox upon Your House

I'm waiting for the locusts next. My house has been hit -- hard -- by multiple bugs of the viral sort. The bugs are breeding new bugs. It's not pretty.

I'm sick, and poor H has been struck, at ten-and-a-half months, with his first-ever bona fide illness beyond the occasional day-long sniffle. I don't know what planet I was living on, but I basically thought he would never get sick because, well, he hadn't ever gotten sick. I thought maybe the betamethasone shots he got in utero had given him a superhuman immune system. Magical thinking, anyone?

But of course it hit him (I mean, he sits there with other kids and licks already-licked toys -- this is not complex science) at the end of this week, coming on slowly with more frequent, messier dirty diapers and a horrendous diaper rash that had him writhing in pain on the changing table any time we dared put him down there. Some Triple Paste, per the smart recommendation of a friend, and some prescription anti-fungal cream at least has this under control.

By Tuesday afternoon, the poor boy was harboring a seal in his throat with a hacking cough and a fever, so back to the pedi's office we went. He's been running an on-again, off-again fever and had bad congestion and coughing ever since. And he just looks up at me with these sad, vacant eyes. Why don't they put a warning label about this in pregnancy and parenting books?

The pedi's office, enjoying -- I am sure -- the daily phone call (wish I were kidding) from yours truly providing a play-by-play on H's developing symptoms, has assured me that this is a garden-variety bug or set of bugs that will clear his system soon enough. But I, ever the paranoid, ever the neurotic, ever the over-thinking mom, am wringing my hands and wishing I could kiss it all away for my little boy.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Much Ado

Just back from the dreaded hysteroscopy. A lot of bark and just a little bite. Much less scar tissue this time -- my RE was pleasantly surprised by what she saw -- which made the pain far less intense. Of course there are still some adhesions remaining (though the uterus is not sealed shut entirely -- take that, crazy progesterone dreams), so I'm OR bound once again. I opted to wait until after the holidays. Because seriously, I need a little Christmas -- especially H's first outside the womb -- without an obstetric or gynecological emergency.

What was a little more interesting was the brief conversation I had with my doctor after the procedure. I asked whether it was crazy to pursue another pregnancy given the complication of the scar tissue and what she'd said around my last surgery about increased risk for placenta problems following a bout with Asherman's. She definitely does not think it's crazy, but she did calculate my risk of placenta accreta at about 5-10%. The treatment for this condition is often hysterectomy during c-section. So 5-10%? Is a pause-and-take-notice kind of calculation.

She also dropped these word bombs: gestational carrier. Now I've been through a lot of gynecological mumbo-jumbo and had a lot of surprising, and often unpleasant, word combos tossed at me over the past several years. Polycystic ovaries. Fetal demise. Placenta previa. So I've learned to be on the lookout for terms that might be heaved my way in advance. But this term caught me off guard today. It's one I've never considered.

Another person could carry a baby for me. She could do the work of growing my little (genetically ours) human while I exercise, drink wine and coffee, and generally go about my days without worrying about every little thing I do. Even better and more importantly, she could relieve the fear of something going seriously wrong with my body -- something that could necessitate the removal of a major organ.

It's got me scratching my head a bit, and wondering how much it would bother me to have another woman linked to my child in that way. But it's something to consider.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Send Me a Bullet to Bite on

Office hysteroscopy tomorrow. The follow-up from my surgery in October, to see the extent of the uterine adhesions remaining.

Of all the poking, prodding and procedures, this one is, by far, the worst for me. Because when you actually have scar tissue in there, that hysteroscope trying to get through it feels just like an instrument trying to get through scar tissue. Which is to say, it hurts like hell. I'd rather have a week of pitocin-induced contractions than this procedure again tomorrow -- no joke. They tell you to take 2-3 Advil prior to coming in, which IS a joke. I've half seriously thought of carrying something with me that I can bite on while it's happening.

Any other advice for dealing with the pain?

Oh, and while I was on progesterone the other week -- because I always have vivid, messed up dreams while on it -- I dreamed that my uterus was glued shut entirely by one huge adhesion.

I hope my clearly disturbed subconscious is wrong.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Ten-Month Funk

I need a good talking to. Somebody snap me out of this.

H is ten months old today. And instead of celebrating the fact that we've made it through most of his first year without breaking him or (hopefully) causing him any long-term damage, I'm sitting here bawling.

He seems so big all of a sudden. He's moving around so much more independently, and I suspect his first solo steps are just around the corner. He recognizes words. He's losing that little baby look. And he actually pushes me away sometimes when I try to kiss him or comfort him after he's bumped his head.

Of course -- of course -- I want him to grow and become more independent. That's the whole point, right? I get it. But there is something so deeply sad about watching these baby days wane right in front of me.

I've loved this time. I wish I could go back and do it again -- yes, all of it. The newborn nights that seemed to never end. The marathon feedings, the days of no showers. The very real trepidation about leaving the house alone with this tiny being who, I was sure, could break if I made the wrong move. I'd take it all just to remember what it felt like to hold him when he was that tiny.

I know I'm being dramatic. I know he's only 10 months old, still just a baby, and when he's four, five or 15 I'm going to look back on this post and think how ridiculous I was, and wish I could go back to this very moment.

I guess part of this is just knowing that this could be it. I've been so insanely happy taking care of this baby and I know I could be saying goodbye to this time with no hope of experiencing it again.

Sometimes I wonder whether wanting another baby is about wanting to relive H's pregnancy and infancy, to go back and right the things I did wrong. To enjoy it more. To let it really soak in.

Either way, I now understand that the angst of secondary infertility is very real. I would not have said this in the midst of the struggle to conceive H. They already had a baby, I would have said, so they don't understand what it feels like to want one.

But I get it now: We know what it's like. And we know what we'll be missing if we can't have it again.

Friday, November 19, 2010

And Now I'm Pooped Too

An exhausting week. Husband in London = full-time baby duty minus sleep (mainly because I am a freak and have a hard time sleeping when he's not here). He's in his car on his way home now, and I'm kicking back with my US Weekly, thinking about which kind of red I'm going to have when he gets here with dinner.

Being on my own with the baby 24 hours a day gives me deep respect for single moms. I seriously do not know how they do it. I salute them, big time.

I know I don't say it -- or even think it -- enough, but I am incredibly lucky to have a partner who is truly a partner in this adventure called parenting. His absence on a week like this brings into stark relief all the things he does while he's here. I mean, yes, I manage the show -- I figure out what H needs to keep him alive and comfortable and give most of the stage directions. But he rolls up his sleeves and plays his part. And I can see that his being the dad he is makes me a better mom.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Other End

This is supposed to be a blog about parenting. Infertility, part deux keeps hijacking it.

Infertility is like a chronic condition. Even if I weren't considering another run, I think I'd still think about it -- a lot. As much as I try to think of myself as just another parent (pregnancy being some sort of equalizer), there are times when I'm reminded that it's different for me. Like when my mom friends start talking about whether it's better to try for a spring baby or a fall baby next time ("next time" being a foregone conclusion).

Anyway. I need a better balance here. So today, I'll be talking about the other great equalizer, poop.

Has anyone noticed their kid's poop has multiplied in scope and frequency since they increased solid feedings? We're now doing three solid meals a day with lots of variety, and for the past couple of weeks he's been pooping, like, 3-4 times per day. It seems like every time I go to get him after a nap or let him play by himself for a few minutes, there's a surprise waiting for me (and it's not wrapped in a little blue box). It feels like he's a newborn all over again, only this poop is not some innocuous, almost cute version of real poop -- it's more like real poop.

Sorry to be graphic.

Anyone else experiencing this? I called the pediatrician's office and was told to "keep an eye on it." As if I'm doing anything else. Is this normal?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

It Gets Worse

My husband's company has been bought by a large, household-name company. The deal went through last week. He will be an official employee of said big company on Jan. 1.

You'd think that given my prior experience working in health care policy, it would have dawned on me that this could be problematic on the ol' reproductive front. I was so preoccupied with everything else going on that I didn't even think about it until this week.

The company is big. Hundreds of thousands of employees.

Which means it's self-insured. I think you know where this is going.

That means they don't have to give a hoot about state mandates on health insurance policies.

Which means that I can say sayonara to easy-peasy insurance plan and worry-free IVF financing when it comes to making baby #2.

I tried calling the nurse on Thursday and explaining my plight to see if they could possibly squeeze in a cycle for me before this happens, while I still have reliable insurance. But the clinic shuts down for two weeks around the holidays so the last day to start Lupron would be 11.17. I couldn't stop obsessing about it overnight so I tried working my way into a call with my doctor on Friday and ended up inadvertently reaching the exact same nurse. I don't want to be that patient. I hate it when I need to be like this, all needy and demanding and obsess-y. So I panicked and asked her about something else instead of being pushy, disregarding what she said (something about "no," which I have a hard time hearing) and asking for my doctor.

Later in the day, I sent my doctor an email reply on another matter and worked in this issue. I asked her if there was any chance under the sun that a cycle could be squeezed in. And now I totally regret sending that note (she has not yet replied). It makes me feel like I'm all desperate about this Operation: Sibling mission, and that was never how it was supposed to be.

I'm supposed to wait until H is at least one.

I'm supposed to enjoy this time with H and not think about the next one. Not be greedy.

But people without wonky eggs and ovaries get to think about another baby without it being greedy. They get to think about it without having to worry about getting insurance to pay for it or somehow coughing up $15-grand. It's unfair, and yes, I'm totally whining about it.

My husband is looking into the insurance options further with HR. It looks like we can probably get one or two cycles at least mostly covered, so it's doable even if it's not great. But you know how one or two cycles can be totally "off" and not work, for no good reason. What if we need a third, what if that's the charm? And what if we can't afford it?

I'm afraid I might be watching H's sibling disappear in real time, like Marty McFly watches his own fade in his family picture when he can't get his high school parents to fall in love.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

If I were a children's book character, today my name would be Alexander.

First, I went to an orthopedic MD for a second opinion on my broken foot. Can't remember if I've discussed it here but I fractured my foot (the little pea-sized bone on the ball of my foot under the big toe) in July and have been hobbling around in a walking cast/boot since late August. Which, if you know the challenges of chasing a very mobile nine-month-old around, you'll understand is not easy. Oh, and by the way, I broke my foot walking in ill-fitting sandals around the mall. Because the universe thought it would be fun to have that be my answer when the 10 people ask me every day how I broke it.

Anyway, I got lost on the way to my appointment (at a hospital I typically do not use) this morning, because even though I've been to this hospital before and it's in a place I should know how to get to, I could get lost in a parking lot. So I was already rattled when I arrived. My anxiety snowballed when I had to wait forever to be seen by a fellow, was sent for more x-rays with a technician who seemed nonplussed by the whole thing as if he just graduated from x-ray technician school, had to wait again to see the real doctor and was told he recommends removing the bone surgically. By the time I left the place just before noon, I was already in need of a strong cocktail.

As I drove to get H at my mother's house, I discovered a message from my realtor. We had our house on the market most of the summer and early fall, became disheartened that it hadn't sold and sick of trying to juggle all the showings with the messy needs of a baby, and took it off the market last week. But a couple who had seen it before wanted another showing, so we agreed to let them see it this morning. The agent was writing to say that the couple loved the house, our decor, blah blah blah, but thought it was too small (which you'd think could have occurred to them during one of the first two showings they'd already had).

Then, because I needed another reason for aggravation, I took H to his music class where he was the victim (word selected for a little added drama) of a little incident. The teacher was taking away one of those baby crawl-through tunnels, folding it up from one end. When she got to the other end where H was leaning, instead of gently taking him off she basically pulled it out from under him, and he promptly fell back and bumped his head. She then attempted a half-assed apology in which she tried to say she thought he could stand on his own, tried to blame my being upset on my problems with my foot and tried to say I should have been there to tell her not to do it. This last one annoys me in particular since I watched the whole thing from about four feet away and made a conscious effort (before I saw that she was going to basically make him fall) not to be neurotic since surely, surely the trustworthy teacher was not going to let anything happen to him.

I am very good at displacing feelings, particularly anxiety and anger. So the bad news from my doctor's appointment was the perfect excuse to release pent-up frustration on the realtor (which, to be fair and make me sound less crazy, is based on concrete issues with him around selling our house). The thing with H at class was easy to be really pissed off about given my state of mind, and also became about my issues with trusting others to take care of H like I do (this setting me back by serving as proof that actually, my being more neurotic in that case would have paid off). I also snuck in some vengeful eating -- a McDonald's cheeseburger and small fry in the car while H slept in the car (so rebellious, like comfort food with a dark side, given my usual fast-food boycott).

Oh and my frustration with my day makes me hate the TLC commercial for the Sarah Palin special, where she pretends to be outdoorsy and folksy, even more. I mean, seriously, TLC?

Still, all of the above is nothing a little red wine can't fix. Or three glasses. Not that I've had three glasses, just -- theoretically.

Tomorrow is a new day.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Full Circle

If you can get your emotions out of it, it's easy to appreciate how interesting life is.

Today I drove to the hospital -- the same one that helped us conceive and bring H into the world. I've been having killer heartburn (not just a little gurgling discomfort -- real, out-of-my-mind pain that's nearly sent me to the emergency room) since my third trimester of pregnancy, finally realized I couldn't will it away and went to the doctor, who ordered a test called a barium swallow. On my way to get the test this morning, I thought about going there exactly a year ago today, for a very different reason: because I was bleeding. Badly. At 28 weeks' pregnant.

I will never forget that drive from my office to the same hospital, that feeling of total vulnerability, that the universe could be at that very moment taking away what it had finally, finally granted. The sick anticipation that I might be about to endure my greatest pain yet. The sadness of telling my unborn baby that all would be okay, when I actually had no clue that it would be.

The whole story is recounted here so I won't numb your skull with the same details. But after an ambulance ride to the hospital downtown, a few days of evaluation and the 13 weeks of bedrest that followed, baby H came out when he was supposed to (a week late, even), healthy, hearty and completely unscathed by those events. Which made every second of those days and weeks so. Totally. Worth it.

Later this morning, I swallowed the vile barium in various positions with the very same radiologist, coincidentally, that administered my first IF test -- the hysterosalpingogram -- and himself had seen my RE with his wife. I was thrilled to tell him that I had been successful in my efforts to have a baby. It truly felt like coming full circle.

I then went upstairs to visit a close friend whose husband is a patient on one of the floors. When I came off the elevator I saw that the special care nursery was housed on the same floor. And all I could think was, "There but for the grace of God...." I mean, it really could have been us. Easily. And H could have had such a different babyhood.

So today I'm thinking a lot about the past year, how the intense fear of last November 4 became hope, then confidence, and ultimately insane, boundless joy. How the entire process of bringing H into this world has made me a better mom, a tougher person. I hope I've absorbed the right lessons from emerging alive. Sometimes I think the incident and bedrest were gifts, granting me the down time I needed to finally relax about the pregnancy.

No matter what else I was meant to learn, I know this: My gratitude is endless.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

To Have and Have Not

So I survived yet another surgery on my girl parts yesterday, thanks to my friend versed. It went well in that I got through it with very little pain, though I still felt foggy for most of the day today.

Here's what didn't go so well: She got only 70 percent of the adhesions. Apparently they can't stay in there all day long once they start (something about fluid absorption reaching a limit), so since my ute was in worse shape than anticipated, she ran out of time at 70 percent. For the math challenged out there, that leaves 30 percent to get out. Which means that I? Was so right in hoping to avoid a c-section in the first place (not that I had much control, in the end). I'll be headed back into the OR after a month on estrace followed by two weeks on provera and an in-office hysteroscopy.

The other thing I learned is that the worse the adhesions are, the greater the risk of placenta complications during pregnancy, like placenta previa (which I had with H) and placenta accreta, the scary condition in which the placenta burrows too deeply into the uterus, sometimes requiring hysterectomy during childbirth.

My doctor still thinks my Asherman's case is only a "3" on a scale of 1-10, and remains quite optimistic about my chances of conceiving again (though she said the scarring had affected at least one of my tubes, which further diminishes any minuscule chance of it happening au naturale).

Am I optimistic? I guess you could say I'm cautiously optimistic. I hope to give H a sibling, which is why I'm going down this path again (and it turns out to be a good thing I'm starting now). I know I would not be content to simply watch my 30s slip away without at least giving it a shot.

But in the meantime, what I am is 100% determined not to let this -- infertility, Asherman's, bad luck -- get in the way of my enjoying H's babyhood. It seems to me that it's easy enough on a normal day to let the moments pass without notice. Add the time and emotional drain that is infertility treatment and it becomes even easier. It would be the ultimate sad irony to sacrifice the sweetest moments with baby #1 in pursuit of baby #2. And it just won't happen.

It won't happen in part because no matter what the answer is this time -- another baby or not -- there is a baby boy upstairs, right now, who already made me a mother. And I owe it to myself, to my son and to every single woman out there still in the fight for motherhood to fully appreciate what I have without pining away for more, or at least without letting that longing overcome the joy.

And so, now back to my regularly scheduled life as a mother.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Good Fight

Went in for obligatory pre-surgery blood work today -- they need to make sure I'm hcg-free before going in to fix my ute tomorrow, because there's nothing like an infertile girl on the Pill to stir up a pregnancy scare.

Actually, these days I prefer to think of myself as fertile until proven otherwise. I'm sticking to it.

Anyway, while I was in my RE's waiting room, in walked this cute, 30-something couple: she very perky and he cooler than a cucumber. They were either totally new to the process or putting on a very believable, synchronized brave face. They were chatting up a storm about things that seemed quite strategically apropos of nothing. What I wanted to do -- and it actually felt difficult to restrain myself -- was go over, give them a hug and tell them this: Keep fighting.

Keep fighting, because what's at the end? Is so worth it.

Keep fighting, because the warmth of a newborn's breath in the crook of your neck is all that you imagine it will be.

Keep fighting, because when this process isn't breaking you, it's stirring up exactly the amount of strength you need to continue.

Keep fighting, because when you are playing with your baby and he looks right in your eyes and laughs an unrestrained belly laugh that sounds like pure joy just sailed right into your living room, this moment -- whatever you're dealing with today -- will seem very, very far away.

That's why I'm crazy enough to think about doing it again. Starting tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Down the Hatch

Because I have been completely lame about blogging from the moment I set foot in the hospital to give birth, and have failed to provide the kind of day-to-day updates I'd intended (or solicit smart advice from readers that could have saved some of the time I seem to woefully lack) I am now forced to summarize important topics like eating over the past eight months (baby H turned eight months on Saturday -- can you believe it?). Because that's what happens when you don't record everything.

So here goes. Eating. H started out as a great eater. He immediately got the whole thing, and our nursing challenges were never about intent or latching or any of that (issues were always supply meeting demand). We began supplementing with formula right in the hospital since his body weight dropped from the initial 8 lbs 9 oz to below 10 percent of that (I'll leave that math to people more equipped to handle it). After some trial and error we settled on Good Start Gentle Plus formula, which has been great for H as a supplement and then the sole milk product. Really no problems with it other than chronic spitup, which I really think is about him more than the formula, and has improved significantly over the past month or two.

Everything was pretty much chugging along (literally) until H started teething. He got his first two bottom teeth at the age of four months, and then in late August/September all four top teeth started coming in at once (actually, first the fangs started coming in alone, which was kind of hilarious looking -- but then the middle two filled in quickly). This seemed to impact his appetite, so between that and his propensity for easy distraction while eating, it seemed impossible to get any nutrition in him for a while.

We started solids (rice cereal -- Happy Bellies organic brown rice, to be exact) at four months, but we went probably more slowly than we should with introducing new foods -- so only at six months did we really start getting into it with him, offering a wider variety of fruits and vegetables. I guess was hesitant simply because there seemed to be so many different and conflicting points of view on the right approach (including within our single pediatrics practice, which provides two conflicting handouts for each age range on its website) that my brain kind of shut down as it does in situations of information overload. I was afraid of giving him the wrong thing.

Over the past month, though, we've really stepped it up and have introduced finger foods (which he really gets, thanks to all those teeth) in addition to a wide range of jarred (Earth's Best organic) baby food varieties. I've attempted to make him food myself but he has completely rejected it, apparently because I can't make it as thin and smooth as the jarred foods.

I guess at this point, I'm looking for ideas. I want to keep expanding his cuisine horizons but am not sure what else I can be giving him at this point. So here's a list of what we've done so far -- would love to hear what you're all giving (or gave) your babes at this stage, as well as any resources you've found particularly helpful ( is one site I've found moderately useful). Also, how quickly should I introduce more finger foods -- and what?

-Rice cereal (he will not eat oatmeal -- have tried two brands)
-Jarred fruits, veggies and meats
-Yogurt (Yo Baby)
-Egg yolks
-Canned pumpkin (which he loves)
-Veggie puffs
-Shredded mozzarella cheese
-Have also tried applesauce and smashed avocado, but he is not a fan -- I think texture bothers him.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Banner Day

It was an interesting day.

Started with a drive into town for an ultrasound at a diagnostic center with 3D ultrasound equipment. It impressed me that it was a test I had not previously been acquainted with, having done what I thought was most OB/GYN procedures known to womankind at this point. I was not impressed with what I saw on the screen -- my fibroids (which was what my doctor was looking at in anticipation of my upcoming operative hysteroscopy) looked pretty average and I didn't see anything particularly special about the images. I mean, for a commute into the city and $11 in parking shouldn't they have provided a little entertainment?

Anyway I became quite wistful sitting in the waiting area among all the big bellies. And an abdominal ultrasound is just so anticlimactic when all you see is your own boring body parts. No little hands waving at you, no baby hiccups to see in action. It confirmed for me that I'm doing the right thing, exploring the possibilities around baby #2. I like thinking that I have that to look forward to again.

Ultrasound completed, I went on to my alma mater to exchange a t-shirt I'd bought a few weeks back when I visited campus with a good friend and fellow alumna. (Note to self: When buying a t-shirt that says "slim fit" at a store specializing in sizes for students nearly 20 years your junior, even size Large is laughing at you.) The wistfulness continued. Once you've reached a certain age, nothing makes you feel older than walking around your old college campus early in the school year when the fresh-faced incoming class is still buzzing around with all the hope in the world about the good things to come. Still, as I lugged my diaper bag around (H was at his grandparents' house but I was too lazy to switch purses -- don't judge me), I couldn't help but feel a little self-satisfied too. I mean, if I could talk to my own fresh face I'd tell her to just eat this time up. But I'd also tell her there's a heck of a lot of good to come much later. And also, she will someday be just so much smarter than she was at 18.

From there, I went on another long-overdue errand: I went for a bra fitting at a respectable underpinnings store like a real lady. I mean, I've been getting through life wearing a nursing bra because it's the only thing that currently fits (having graduated from my reliable 34B somewhere in the second trimester), and seriously, we simply can't have that any longer. I confirmed I am exactly the size I expected and bought one, perfectly fitting bra that did so much for my mood that I think there should be a nationally mandated bra fitting day.

After H was home for a while and went to bed, I ended the day catching up with a friend -- the kind of friend you miss if you don't talk for a few days -- over a civilized glass of wine.

On my mind the entire day: this news about Robert Edwards and his well deserved Nobel Prize. I blubbered as I heard NPR report on it this morning, on my way to the ultrasound. If it weren't for this guy...well, thankfully, we'll never know. But I'm glad he's around, and that he did what he did. What else can I say but thank you, Professor Edwards. Thank you.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Blog Readers

So Bloglines, the blog reader service I've been using for at least a year to keep track of all your brilliant posts, is shutting down as of the end of the month. Which means I have four days to find another reader. I briefly looked online for other options, got overwhelmed and decided to bypass all the research and just ask you what you use.

What's the best blog tracker site out there?

Monday, September 20, 2010

As the Uterus Turns

Something happened after I had a baby: I became a normal mom. Okay, maybe not completely normal. Definitely a bit more neurotic than some. Maybe walking around with just a little baggage from my experience with infertility (but more like a small carry-on). But more or less just another mother of an infant, obsessing over feeding and sleeping and trying to stay sane on the tough days. It's been nice. I've been pretty cautious about bringing up IVF, especially with the new mom friends I've made, those with whom the common bond is having an infant. We're on an even playing field -- we both have babies and it really doesn't matter how they came to be -- and I haven't wanted to disturb that equation with an injection of assisted reproduction chatter.

Well. It's been fun. Last week I inadvertently got off the normal train and boarded the infertility express and now I don't know how to stop it.

I got my period last Saturday, which was an unexpected but welcome event. Based on my history I had every reason to expect that it would never come back on its own post-childbirth. But there it was, just 1.5 mos after weaning H from nursing, just like a normal person. Yay, right? Not so fast. It was extremely light, and on Sunday a lightbulb went off in my head: Wasn't it just like it was after my D&E? And didn't we learn that was because I had uterine scarring? And can't you get more scarring from a c-section, which was one of several reasons I didn't want one?

The next morning, I called my OB, who emailed my RE, and before I knew it I was back in the stirrups on Thursday for an office hysteroscopy. My RE (who is still fabulous) swore it was not going to be Asherman's, since only one other patient in her career got it from a c-section. Do I even need to tell you what she found (while I was trying desperately to breathe through searing pain that hit me harder than contractions)? I was right. I'm the one-percent girl. Again. (If anyone needs me to come over and provide a diagnosis, give me a call.)

So all of a sudden I'm having an operative hysteroscopy in a few weeks. Because if I ever hope to be pregnant again -- and especially if I want to give my body a chance to do it on its own -- the scar tissue has to go.

I am just feeling weird about the whole thing. It feels so optional this time. My whole life doesn't feel like it hangs in the balance of a test result or a procedure. I mean, do I want a second child? Yes (though this answer is complicated too). Do I want H to have a sibling? Absolutely. Will I mourn if it doesn't happen? Yup. But it sort of feels like I could have just waited a couple of months to have it checked out, like I didn't have to force the issue right this moment. I kind of feel like saying wait a minute, I didn't mean it, and returning to my previously scheduled life as a mom.

But how can I? I want to pursue this second baby at some point soon, because it could be a long process, I'm not getting any younger and I just kind of want to finish the whole reproduction thing sooner rather than later. The first necessary step is this surgery, which I know from experience is not a big deal. And then maybe, just maybe that will be all the help I need. I'm not banking on it, but a girl can hope.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Summer Wind

I love this time of year, early September. It hangs delicately between the unfinished business of summer and the softer light and air on its way in. It makes me want to soak everything up, to linger a bit.

The past couple of months have been wild, and I feel like I've done no lingering at all. Where the summer used to be about moving from pastime to pastime between the anchors of Memorial and Labor Days, this one has been about moving from baby milestone to baby milestone. About figuring out the essentials like eating and sleeping, and keeping up with my boy, who is already two steps ahead of me -- all while keeping the rest of our lives afloat as well.

Let me bring you up to speed:

-Baby H is crawling. The real deal. This began almost the day he turned six months, followed quickly by his learning to pull himself up on all manner of surfaces -- coffee table, crib, upholstered chair, and especially anything unstable or pointy.

-We're trying to sell our house, and on the hunt for a new one. We currently live in a very nice, close-in suburb of Boston that I would like to remain in for decades to come. But I'd also like more of the trappings of suburban life, many of which were once anathema: a huge family room, with (horrors) carpeting -- somewhere to put H down and let him roam safely. A huge yard with a swing set. Room to grow. So we're looking in the real suburbs, where these things come more affordably. And let me tell you something about trying to sell a house when you have a baby: It sucks. Please, please, please let it sell soon.

-My freelance work has taken off in ways I never anticipated when I got up the nerve to walk in and quit my full-time job after one post-baby month back. I work pretty much every night and weekend, and sometimes long for a little downtime. But it is well worth it to continue to contribute to the household income while relishing every day at home with my boy.

-My husband left on July 25 for a business trip to Tokyo and Canberra, Australia. When he walked back in the house 12 days later, I knew instantly that something was seriously wrong. Gaunt, pale and weak, he looked like death warmed over; I learned that after dinner in Tokyo nearly a week prior, he went to the bathroom and essentially hadn't been able to stray far from a toilet since. I won't bore you with the full rundown, but the rest of the story involves a fever, four nights at Brigham and Women's Hospital, a CAT Scan, finally a diagnosis (campylobacter infection) and enough antibiotics to open a small pharmacy. I'm not sure I can put into words how stressful and surreal it is to have your husband on the infectious disease floor of a hospital (the docs suited up and everything) after a long business trip while you care for a fussy baby and keep your house clean for showings by your realtor. I'm grateful, in more ways than one, that he's back in fighting form.

-To prove further how much we seem to love doctors and hospitals, I learned last week that the foot that's been throbbing for two months since an ill-fated walk through the mall (in Jack Rogers sandals whose loose fit, I knew, would one day cause me pain) is actually broken. So I'll be hobbling around in a big, black boot-cast for two months. How do these things happen to me? Seriously, if you see me on the street, run the other way. I have redefined the notion of "shop until you drop."

-Other H updates: Solids seem to be going well -- he's enjoying them more and more, though still only the jarred variety (Earth's Best), as he seems to have an aversion to chunkier foods and I can't smooth anything out to his liking with the Cuisinart (which is fine with me). He's more social now, loves other babies and smiles and laughs nonstop. He still loves his Baby Bjorn -- I spent the whole summer carting him around open houses, supermarkets and other destinations strapped to my middle, a tiny madman grabbing at packages and laughing spontaneously out loud. He instantly became the mayor of anywhere we went, loving the attention. We're still working on sleep -- that's a long story worthy of a separate post. We did manage to get away for a few days in Maine, an exhausting but fun trip that included H's first time at the beach.

All told, it's been a good summer, though I can't help but feel that it slipped away too quickly. It's amazing to me that this baby who took so long to arrive is now growing and changing so much, so fast. It's hard not to remember that this time last year, I was expanding by the minute and registering for baby gear, most of which I had only the most abstract idea how to use. Now, as I watch H become more and more independent, I want to somehow bottle it all up so I can relive it someday when I need the warmth of these moments. I am trying to focus on the fact that he's still only seven months old, still just a small baby. That someday this time that I'm in, right now, will be the longed-for memory.

I didn't know it would be this fun, that I would be this happy. Didn't know that a voice inside would whisper: This is the time of your life.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Released from Duty

H and I would like to announce that we have officially stopped nursing. Like completely done now, finito. Returned the breast pump rental today.

As I said here before, it had been petering out for quite some time. The last couple of weeks, though there were a couple of feedings with better volume, had started to feel sort of sad, as if the whole thing was past its expiration date. On Wednesday, he looked up at me and made this face, like give it up, mama. I'm good. So I decided to hang up my nursing bra. I had hoped to coast to six months, but was sort of easier to decide like this, in real time, based on signals from him, than decide going into it that this was The Last Nursing Session.

I think before I had him I would have thought that getting sentimental about ending nursing was sort of creepy. But it's hard to let go of it for a couple of reasons. First, I still, even up until the bittersweet end, wished somewhere in the back of my mind that somehow I could be one of these earth mothers able to satisfy all her baby's dietary needs at will. Yeah, not so much. I need to get over this. Sometimes, my body doesn't do what it's supposed to. It didn't when I was trying to get pregnant, and it didn't when I wanted to nurse exclusively. But it did when it needed to carry my gorgeous baby for nine-and-a-half months. So I think all is forgiven.

Of course the other reason is that for the first time since he was an embryo, he doesn't depend on me for anything life-giving. He's on his own now, fully. He's growing up. All is as it should be, but that doesn't stop it from being a little bit sad.

I would say overall, I feel pretty positive about the whole nursing deal -- more so than I expected going into it. I will never forget the scene in the recovery room after my c-section, me still a complete disaster, recovering from anesthesia and hopped up on anti-anxiety meds, shivering uncontrollably, how he looked up at me and latched on like I'd been nursing him for years, like okay lady, you're a mess -- let me handle this. He got enough in the weeks that followed, all the positive benefits. There's nothing to feel about the whole thing except great. And all the militant breastfeeding pushers who think I totally failed because I give my son formula can totally suck it.

Meanwhile, I have my body back for the first time in over a year. Which means I'm free to poison it as I please. Bring on the cabernet, the caffeinated lattes and the pale-skin curing self-tanner, please.

Random post-script: I just caught up on this week's "Boston Med," and lo and behold, there was the ob-gyn resident (the one my husband affectionately called the 12-year-old doctor) who handed me the fateful prescription for misoprostol during the third installment of the Longest Miscarriage in History a year and a half ago. I was still on the fence about taking the drug when I went to the IVF clinic to make a plan that day, but found her manner so reassuring that I decided to go ahead with it. Which, as some of you may remember, turned out to be an unequivocal disaster. But that wasn't her fault, so I hope she keeps plowing ahead with this medicine thing despite the thoughts of quitting that she expressed on the show. Meanwhile, this town is getting to be too small. You'd think I could turn on a show about medicine in a town overrun with doctors without seeing one that's familiar with my vagina.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Reason #719 Why I Am a Bad Mother

I am a bad mother. Today, the reason for that is: I just put my baby down for a nap. On his stomach.

Before you go all it's-back-to-bed-lady-don't-you-know-anything-about-infant-care on me, I need to state my case. I never would have done this in the early weeks and months, obviously. But H has been rolling onto his stomach since 12 weeks, so after getting over the initial anxiety of it, I have become accustomed to watching him roll over immediately after I put him down in his crib. His favorite sleeping position is belly down, butt in the air. The pediatrician told me that we can't keep vigil over his crib all night, so once they can move around like this you really can't do anything to stop them. So after a couple of nights of keeping vigil over his crib all night (oh, doctor, you underestimate my anxious powers) once we transitioned him out of the bassinet, where he'd been held back from rolling by a sleep positioner, I finally accepted that I couldn't do anything to stop it. H officially became a belly sleeper.

For the past few nights since we got back from our first mini-vacation with baby in tow (more on this later), he's been all out of whack, and putting him down to sleep has been a knock-down-drag-out ordeal (the parents being the ones knocked down and dragged out, natch). He's been so upset when we put him down on his back that he can't even muster the wherewithal to roll over as he normally does. So I? Rolled him over for him. And he was out like a light.

I know he normally sleeps like this and the pediatrician has given us the green light to let it happen. Putting him down on his belly intentionally still does give me pause, which I suppose is a proof point to the success of the back-to-bed campaign. This message is drilled. But I'd like to see the leaders of this campaign to come to my house, witness my poor tired baby screaming his head off then instantly calm down when I put him on his belly, and not do the exact same thing.

Incidentally, though I hope it read ironically, I feel I should add the following disclaimer: I don't actually believe that I'm a bad mother. I'm not even explicitly looking for comments that exclaim, "You're not a bad mother!", though they are always welcome. I actually know I'm a pretty good mother -- in fact, I've never felt so confident about anything in my life. Oh, I make a ton of mistakes, all the time, and some days I feel like I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing, as clueless and nonplussed as if someone handed me a scalpel, put me in an OR and asked me to perform lifesaving brain surgery. But for every mistake I've made, I've done something right. I get up every day and try my best to keep him fed and happy. I give him crazy love. All you have to do is turn on the local evening news to realize that, sadly, that's a lot better than the BS that far too many babies in this world must accept as mothering.

We do the best we can. We consult the experts, but in the end, in the final translation from the latest parenting advice book to the day-in-day-out of real-life parenting, we make the best decisions we can for our babies in the moment. That is all we can do.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Worse Than Mom Jeans

Let me tell you something: If you start to feel that you're living too charmed a life, that you could use a little grounding, a little humbling, do the following. Have a baby. By c-section, just for a little added pain. And then go bathing suit shopping.

I realize my last post was along the same lines: a long, whine-y rant about my new body. I promise this will not become a blog all about my "weight loss journey" or whatever you call this post-baby search for my waistline. But I went to find a bathing suit the other night, because although I think wearing a hazmat or space suit to the beach would be really awesome, it's possible that it would just draw more attention to me and my very un-beach-worthy body.

So I dragged myself to shop for one. I decided to look at the discount stores (Filene's Basement, Marshalls), because I believe, perhaps naively, that this particular suit will be a one-season investment. My days of wearing anything ending in the suffix "-ini" long behind me, I scanned the one-piece racks for something, anything, remotely palatable. What I discovered is that the line between modest and matronly is precariously thin. There were lots of bold floral prints in unfortunate colors that I can pretty confidently say aren't going to do anyone any favors. There were flouncy skirts and awkward belts. There were thick, molded bra cups. Much of what I saw just screamed "mommy who has given up."

Most of what I then tried on was obviously out of the question. Two seemed within the realm of the possible, but since I have no objectivity, I decided to take them both home and ask my husband's opinion. I have yet to work up the nerve to try them on for him, but I'm going to have to soon. One is slimming up top, with ruffles and a plunging neckline that is totally unlike me to wear but I'm hoping might wag the dog and keep eyes away from my lower half. I'll let you know what he says. At the very least, the lighting in my house has got to be better than what the fitting room lighting, which was definitely no one's BFF.

The other thing that happened was that I turned 34 yesterday. Which means, well, that I'm one year older. And it's also the last year before 35 and that invisible line of demarcation they've created between good and bad eggs. Since we already know my eggs aren't great, and we have to get science involved to find a good one that makes a baby, this is a bit unsettling. I'd love to have all kinds of time to figure out whether we want to try again -- would love for it to be as easy as deciding to throw away the pill pack. But it's not. It requires lots of planning and processes, and we simply don't have the luxury of waiting if we want to optimize our chances of ever having a sibling for H. So, even as we still have a baby young enough to wake once a night for feeding, we're debating the pros and cons of going for #2. Stay tuned for more on this unfolding saga.

Meanwhile, though my husband disagrees, I declare that 34 is still officially early 30s. Mid-30s is 35 and 36. Everyone knows that.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Weighty Issues

Here's what I hate: post-baby belly fat.

It's not a pretty sight. The other night, as I lay awake working way too hard to succumb to sleep (it seems those weeks upon weeks of being up with a newborn have rewired my brain to require less of it, and lately I'm an insomniac before 1 a.m.), I reached down to feel my abdomen, which I admittedly do from time to time to assess the state, size and scope of things (and maybe discover the baby fat has magically disappeared?). It felt like a topographic map of childbearing. I imagined a hushed, official-sounding voice (would Ben Stein do it? James Earl Jones?) narrating: Here is the deep canyon formerly known as her bellybutton. To the north, an overhang of loose terrain; to the south, the permanent fault line of the c-section scar. To the east and west, the shallow crevasses of stretch marks she thought she'd never have. This is treacherous territory.

I admit that going into the whole pregnancy thing I didn't think much about the effects it would have on my body; when you work so hard for a baby it's just not the priority. I figured I would be one of those women who was "all baby," and for the most part, my arms, legs and derriere didn't suffer much. My face exploded in that pregnant-lady swollen way, and my nose looked like about twice its size, but that went back to normal almost immediately after giving birth. But the thing is, "all baby" isn't code for Heidi Klum. All that baby fat has to go somewhere once the baby is no longer in there holding it up, so you better be ready to starve yourself and train for hours daily a la Ms. Klum if you want to rock it in a Victoria's Secret fashion show mere weeks after delivery (note to Ms. Klum: please don't give us that nonsense about the pounds falling off due to nursing and kid-chasing. We're pretty smart.).

What I've done so far to try to put my body back together is, admittedly, sort of lame. After the requisite six-week rest period, when I finally felt my bearings return and the weather began improving I started walking again. I felt my muscles start to stir from their more than a year-long IVF/placenta previa/bedrest/c-section-induced slumber and I knew it would be a long road. I'm just now starting to feel normal in that I can go for a long, athletically rigorous walk and not be totally wiped out after it.

I also picked up the Tracy Anderson Method Post-Pregnancy Workout. I put it in the DVD player, turned it on, tried a few of the isolation exercises, threw my back out and collapsed. So that went well.

As for eating, what I expected was that the party would be over when I got home from the hospital after H arrived. I did my fair share of indulging during the pregnancy, although I suspect that what I consider indulging would be standard fare for lots and lots of people. But when I got home, what I found was that the nursing made me even hungrier than I was during pregnancy, which I never would have thought was humanly possible. So while I tried to make healthy choices, I still consumed shockingly large volumes of food.

The sum total of all of the above is that it's taken me longer than I would have guessed to lose the weight. I haven't really spent a lot of energy trying -- frankly, I've found sleep and other vital activities to be more important ways of spending my free time -- so I can't really complain about it. I have noticed that the pounds have started to come off more quickly over the past few weeks (coincidentally, as the nursing has dwindled down to about one feeding per day. Which supports what I've heard about your body storing extra fat to make milk, and pretty much flies in the face of the whole nursing-as-weight-loss-panacea theory.), and that is encouraging. But my closet is still a mish-mash of a few older clothes that now fit me, the handful of things I've bought to fit my new voluptuous (read: chubby) figure and the few maternity things that still are the only items in their category (jeans) that currently fit.

So I'm hoping for more, hoping to get closer to the thin/healthy body I had, even if it's not precisely the same body -- even if it's a new landscape. And it looks like I'm going to have to step it up and use some elbow grease if I want to get there.

Where are you on the whole postpartum weight loss thing?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Like a Racehorse

This one falls squarely in the category of oversharing. But I've got to talk about it, to see if I'm alone and to bring this important issue to light. Here goes. Don't be frightened.

Once upon a time, I would go to a public ladies room, pick a stall as far from the others as possible and get down to business. Now, I have a shy bladder anyway, and always have a hard time getting things going if someone else (particularly someone I know who, God forbid, is trying to talk to me at the same time) is in an adjacent stall. Invariably, though, as I would be trying to pee, someone would clomp into the stall right next to me, sit down (did they even put toilet paper down, I would wonder in quiet horror, so quick it all sounded) and start peeing.

And at times, the sound of that stall neighbor's pee would be so forceful and so loud that I would actually be sort of afraid for her. Good grief, I would think, what is wrong with her. It was no stream -- it was torrential rapids. The truly frightening thing is that I noticed this happened quite a lot. It seemed to me there was an unspoken epidemic of aggressive female pee-ers. I would shake my head and silently applaud my dainty urethra for taking its sweet time and tinkling like a lady.

Well, clearly I should have been more charitable in my consideration of these women, because sometime in the last weeks of my pregnancy and first weeks postpartum, my demure urethra turned punk. And now? Now if I drink one drop of water too many and there's any urgency behind the need to pee, it is off to the races. And the crazy thing is that I seem to have no control over the speed and force of it when this occurs -- I'm either peeing loudly enough for my husband to hear outside the bathroom door (I am not kidding: He asked me if it was me in there or a 300-pound man) or not peeing at all. There is no in between, no happy medium. And oh my goodness, how embarrassing.

I'm sure there is some perfectly reasonable medical explanation for this. Something about the pressure on the bladder or shifts in the other plumbing down there. All I know is that my polite peeing ways are, at least for the moment, resting in peace along with my former bellybutton and my ability to recall information five minutes after I hear it.

And now I know what was "wrong" with all those women: They've given birth.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Milking It

The other day, I went to a breastfeeding drop-in group at my local maternity resource center (or as I call it, the pregnancy/baby theme park). All around me were brand new mothers, still glowing, all nursing their quiet little newborns. And I? I whipped out a bottle and a container of powdered formula when H started clamoring for it. It felt gleefully rebellious.

It also felt a little sad. The breastfeeding thing has not gone the way I'd hoped. But since I was also prepared for the worst -- I fully expected, given my body's propensity to never do what it's supposed to do, to never make a drop of milk at all -- I haven't been devastated by our inability to exclusively breastfeed. I really can't even think of one friend who hasn't had some sort of issue when it comes to nursing -- undersupply, mastitis, you name it.

So when they encouraged me to start supplementing in the hospital when H began to exceed the allotted ten percent loss of body weight, I felt like I was already primed to make that decision. I mean, it's not hard. Your baby is fading away despite your feeding him 24 hours a day, and the doctors are actually concerned. Digging in your heels about exclusively breastfeeding sort of seems like missing the point.

At first, I followed what the nurses and lactation consultants advised and tried to breastfeed him first at every feeding, followed by an ounce of formula. And then pump. So basically? I was feeding the boy around the clock. I don't care how much you love your baby -- if you're human and have a human need to rest and eat and pee, this kind of schedule is unsustainable. And also, all the nursing and pumping wasn't doing anything to build my supply and H was still really fussy. What ultimately ended up working for us was to do whole feedings with formula, as my supply would build back up with the passage of time. So we'd nurse in the morning, do formula late morning and sometimes early afternoon and then nurse again for the next couple of feedings. We were on a roll and things were going well. And then I went back to work.

All kidding aside about the weirdness of taking your boobs out at work -- and it is weird -- I found pumping to be a real pain in the neck. I know I'm should have had a happier attitude about it, because it was for my baby's well-being, but I found that by the time I got into work, got settled, grabbed my coffee, read a few emails and then pumped, it was already 11 a.m. And frankly, nursing is a lot less gratifying when plastic suction cups take the place of an adorable baby. It's hard to feel maternal when you're staring at office supplies and servers in a tiny office closet.

So all of that added up to my being very bad about pumping on a consistent schedule. And even when I would pump, I think I was so wound up about being at work that I hardly got anything at all. Which means that now that I'm back at home with H and able to nurse again, I hardly have anything left. Which led me to the nursing drop-in group, where I committed the blasphemous act of feeding my baby Good Start formula from a bottle. The lactation consultant leading the session tried to act nonchalant about it, but I could see she was horrified.

The advice I got was to try pumping again a half hour after every feeding. I'm also trying to drink more water and considering trying fenugreek as a last resort. Because, while I think I have a pragmatic view of the benefits of nursing (my Harvard-educated and -trained pediatrician says the literature is grossly overstated on this), my goal was to get us to six months. And I don't think we're ready to be fully done just yet.

Anyway, I would love to hear any experience/advice along the same lines.

Finally, a word about lactation consultants. It is amazing to me that two of them can possibly share the same title, because in my experience they can vary dramatically. I had two while still in the hospital; the second came to me only in the last hours I was there. But I think if she had come first (because her colleague? Oh no. No good.), I may have had a different experience. That's how influential these people can be. You're a new parent, you're vulnerable, and let's face it, you've never done anything like nursing before. So you're at the mercy of their advice and approach. If they tell you to stand on your head and sing "Surrey with the Fringe on Top" while nursing, you'll try it. So pregnant/soon-to-be-pregnant girls, if you take anything from this, please take this: Get yourself in touch with a good lactation consultant before you even deliver. I don't have to tell you what makes a good one. Talk to a couple and you'll soon see that a good LC is like pornography: You'll know it when you see it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

It's Not My Bag

When I was in my nesting phase, researching and gathering baby gear, I smugly decided that people who bought more than one diaper bag were misguided. Clearly, if you chose right, you could get one perfect bag that would hold everything and go with everything, and call it a day. So I did my requisite research and determined that the Skip Hop Studio bag was the end all, be all.

Two things ultimately sent this theory to the same place as my pre-baby theories that pacifiers are for wimps, you shouldn't send the baby to the nursery while in the hospital and newborn care can't be that stressful since they sleep most of the day. First of all, the bag is too mushy. It lacks structure, so basically all the myriad stuff you need to carry -- diapers, wipes, burp cloths, hats, bottles, your own wallet and keys, clothes, etc. etc. ad nauseum -- sort of ends up all smashed together in the bottom of the bag and you have to take everything out to find anything. And second, the thing is already ripping. I'm definitely not carrying anything inappropriate in it, like, say, the baby himself, but after just a couple of months of use the seams on the pockets are already shredding and it's starting to fall apart.

So. I'm in the market for a new bag. This new one still needs to look like a semi-normal bag that your former self would not be embarrassed to carry. It has to have interior pockets and some structure to it, to keep things in their place. And it has to be reasonably priced. I'm no longer working and I don't really want to spend a ton on a bag that will carry gear associated with poop and spitup.

Do you love your diaper bag? Do tell.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

If This Isn't Multitasking, I Don't Know What Is

If you came here from Good Egg Hunting, you know I quit my job after four weeks back following my maternity leave. I'm continuing to do freelance work, which is proving more challenging with a four-month-old than I would have previously thought (those visions of productive afternoons spent quietly working, iced tea nearby, while the baby napped? were the visions of someone without a four-month-old still not on a schedule). I had a conference call this afternoon, and while I prayed very hard that the baby would be asleep by then, no such luck. So here's what I did while I was on the call:

-Finished giving him a bottle
-Tried putting him down for a nap
-Wasn't having it
-Changed the crib sheet after he spit up on it while I tried to get him to sleep
-Changed his diaper
-Comforted him after the nap attempt
-Pulled a piece of my hair out of his hand after he yanked it out
-Played with him on the floor
-Lulled him to sleep
-Put him down
-Crossed my fingers
-Breathed a sigh of relief when he went to sleep

I'm exhausted.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

One of Those Days in Babyville

Has anyone else noticed that when it comes to being a new parent, some days you feel like a genius who totally has this thing DOWN, and some days you feel like you know nothing at all?

Yeah, today is one of the I-kn0w-nothing kind of days. It's kicking my butt. I still don't have H on any kind of schedule, and what's worse is that I have absolutely no clue how to get to one. He does nap once in the morning and once in the afternoon, but they're at wildly varying times and have no consistent pattern in terms of length. He's been fussy for most of the day and I'm not really at all clear on why.

Also, the spitup? The spitup that no one warns you about before the baby is born but the constant cleanup of which basically rules your life for the first few months? It's back. With a vengeance. I'm wearing eau de Good Start formula today, and it's not a scent you'll find at Neiman Marcus. We need more burp cloths -- we never have enough burp cloths.

So yeah, the boy is giving me a run for my money today. I feel like I've mastered nothing lo these four months and it's a little discouraging.

Anyone else having one of those days?

Monday, June 14, 2010

My New Commute Is a Walk Down the Hall

When you feel – right down to your fingernails and pinky toes – that you've never been more content than you are on this new little planet with your new, amazing baby (and still amazing husband) and also know for sure that the day job you just returned to is not making you anywhere near as happy (and, indeed, that you would rather work nights at Starbucks than be there, away from your baby), the thing that you do is, you quit.

So I did.

And now, just like that, I'm an at-home mom and freelance writer. Welcome to my new adventures in diaper management, spitup catching and a long list of one-handed feats. Hang onto your hats.

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